Review: Japan Airlines 777-300ER First Class (HND-LHR)


Some links to products and travel providers on this website will earn Traveling For Miles a commission which helps contribute to the running of the site – I’m very grateful to anyone who uses these links but their use is entirely optional. The compensation does not impact how and where products appear on this site and does not impact reviews that are published.


All posts in this series:


I’d had a pretty good experience with my JAL Business Class flight a few days beforehand so I was looking forward to seeing what the airline would offer in its long haul First Class cabin. With a scheduled travel time of over 12 hours there would be no shortage of time to try out the product properly.

Unsurprisingly JAL’s long haul flights depart from Haneda’s International terminal and, when I got through the doors, it was nice to see so few people waiting to check-in – 3 desks and just one passenger ahead of me:

JAL First Class Check-in Tokyo Haneda

But, while check-in was swift and efficient, the priority security line was looking very congested….and that’s because just about everybody seems to have “priority”:

Tokyo Haneda Priority Security Access

There was only one scanning machine for what was a pretty long line but, to give the security guys credit, they processed passengers pretty quickly….or at least quicker than I had expected.

Up next was passport control….which had no line at all so I was soon making my way to the JAL First Class lounge.

My flight was departing from gate 113….

JAL 777-300ER First Class

…which was incredibly convenient for both the First Class lounge (by gate 112) and the JAL Sakura SkyView lounge which is by gate 114.

Boarding didn’t start until 11:10 which, for an 11:30 departure, seemed a little late.

The welcome onboard was nice and the cabin services manager introduced herself within minutes of me arriving at my seat.

A cold towel and choice of orange juice or champagne was offered immediately and one of the flight attendants took my coat.

JAL 777-300ER First Class

JAL First Class on thee airline’s 777-300ER offers 8 seats in a 1-2-1 layout.

JAL 777-300ER First Class Seat Map courtesy of Seatguru.com

I was in seat 2K.

JAL 777-300ER First Class

JAL 777-300ER First Class

Interestingly there’s a single row of Business Class seating directly behind First Class….

JAL 777-300ER Business Class

…but there is a divider separating this row from First Class.

When I got to my seat, a set of Bose noise cancelling headphones…..

JAL 777-300ER First Class

….an amenity kit…..

JAL 777-300ER First Class

…..and slippers (in a bag) were already waiting for me:

JAL 777-300ER First Class

Also waiting for me was one of the biggest pillows I’ve ever seen on an aircraft – take a look at its size compared to an iPhone 6:

JAL 777-300ER First Class

Not only was it big but it was good quality too.

Boarding + 15 mins: A flight attendant came around with UK landing cards and a voucher for free inflight wi-fi.

JAL 777-300ER First Class

Boarding + 18 mins: The same flight attendant came around with extra pillows (smaller than the one already at my seat) and a blanket.

JAL 777-300ER First Class

Boarding + 22 mins: We pushed back and I was offered a newspaper of my choice.

I was wrong to question JAL boarding us just 20 minutes before departure as, clearly, they can load a 777-300ER in record time.

What takes Qatar Airways around 45 minutes and can take American Airlines over an hour took JAL just 22 minutes….and it wasn’t like the aircraft was half-empty either.

As we were taxiing around Haneda I had time to pull together my first thoughts of the JAL First Class cabin.

The centre pair of seats looks ok and there’s a very big divider that can be raised between them if you don’t know (or don’t like!) the person sitting next to you.

JAL 777-300ER First Class

JAL 777-300ER First Class

But the window seats seemed more exclusive and looked more private.

JAL 777-300ER First Class

My seat had three windows for me to look out of…..

JAL 777-300ER First Class

…and an incredible amount of stowage space.

If you lift up the cover over the window ledge you’ll find three compartments…..

JAL 777-300ER First Class

…the largest of which took my 15″ MacBook with ease and still left a lot of space unused.

JAL 777-300ER First Class

There was a lot of storage room under the ottoman ahead of the seat…..

JAL 777-300ER First Class

JAL 777-300ER First Class

…and there was even a shoe storage area under there too:

JAL 777-300ER First Class

If you’re not using the ottoman the area on top of it could be used to store items too:

JAL 777-300ER First Class

Unlike with Etihad First Class there are no doors on the JAL First Class suites but I still had a nice feeling of space and privacy.

At this point I took the opportunity to take a closer look at the amenity kit.

The bag looked a bit “military”….

JAL 777-300ER First Class

JAL 777-300ER First Class

….but the contents were nice enough:

JAL 777-300ER First Class

JAL 777-300ER First Class

Boarding + 40 mins: After 18 minutes of taxiing and waiting we finally took off and were on our way to London.

Take off + 7 mins:  The seatbelt sign was extinguished.

Take off  + 10 mins: The cabin services manager came around to say hi again and to let me know that the flight time was expected to be around 11hrs and 45 mins – great! Lots of time to enjoy First Class 🙂

Take off + 19 mins:  The flight attendants handed out a wine/drinks list:

Take off + 24 mins: My drinks order was taken and I went with a very nice Louis Latour Puilgny Montrachet 1er Cru “Sous Le Puits” 2012:

JAL 777-300ER First Class

I carried on looking around the JAL suite and noticed that the power outlet was conveniently located in a compartment next to the monitor.

JAL 777-300ER First Class

The power port looks universal….

JAL 777-300ER First Class

…..but it wasn’t. A UK plug wouldn’t fit but, unsurprisingly, a US one was fine. 

There was also a USB port next to the power outlet so you don’t actually need a plug to charge all your devices.

I loved the table which is in its locked position when it’s immediately ahead of the IFE monitor….

JAL 777-300ER First Class

…but it can also be moved into any position between the monitor and the passenger’s body.

JAL 777-300ER First Class

It’s also a very good size. Here it is compared to an iPhone 6…..

JAL 777-300ER First Class

….and look at how much space you’re left with even after you put a 15″ MacBook on it:

JAL 777-300ER First Class

The suite offers two reading lights (one either side of the passenger)…..

JAL 777-300ER First Class

…and the headphone input was just under the light to my right:

JAL 777-300ER First Class

The seat controls come in two forms (basic and a bit more advanced) although, strangely, both are right next to each other:

JAL 777-300ER First Class

JAL 777-300ER First Class

JAL 777-300ER First Class

The main remote control for the IFE is housed in a compartment under the window ledge….

JAL 777-300ER First Class

JAL 777-300ER First Class

….while a second controller (housed in a similar area) doubles as a phone:

JAL 777-300ER First Class

Take off + 35 mins: The cabin crew started preparing the tables for meal service

Take off + 38 mins: My wine arrived with amuse bouche of chicken liver pate, prosciutto and salmon skewer.

JAL 777-300ER First Class

JAL 777-300ER First Class

Take off+ 40 mins: One of the flight attendants handed me the main meal menu for the flight:

Take off + 45 mins:  My dinner order taken as well as a second drinks order.

I went for the western menu with the caviar to start, the Wagyu beef main course and a Chateau Talbot 2012 Saint Juilen Grand Cru to go with the beef main course.

JAL 777-300ER First Class – Wine

I’m not sure if it was the altitude or the wine itself but I didn’t rate this one too highly.

Take off + 1 hr 1 min: Tables were set for dinner

JAL 777-300ER First Class

JAL 777-300ER First Class

Take off + 1 hr 10 mins: The amuse bouche “smooth fondant of salted mullet roe and turnip” was served:

JAL 777-300ER First Class – Amuse Bouche

JAL 777-300ER First Class – Amuse Bouche

it was beautifully creamy and flavourful – I loved this and could have easily eaten more 🙂

Take off + 1 hr 22 mins: My choice of starter arrived – “Caviar with egg yolk cream & crispy rice wafers”

JAL 777-300ER First Class – Caviar Starter

JAL 777-300ER First Class – Caviar Starter

Another very nice course….although I could have done with few more wafers and a little more caviar to help use up all the egg yolk cream.

Take off + 1 hr 40 mins: The “Kuroge Wagyu” beef fillet arrived as did a wine top up.

JAL 777-300ER First Class – Wagyu Beef Fillet

JAL 777-300ER First Class – Wagyu Beef Fillet

The fillet was very tender, cut with ease and was nicely rate in the middle…..but it was a little on the cold side – this is probably the cost of having the steak rare rather than cooked to death in an aircraft oven.

After I was done with my main course I ordered some Japanese tea (that’s drunk from a wine glass) as a pairing for dessert.

JAL 777-300ER First Class

JAL 777-300ER First Class

Take off + 2 hrs 0 mins: A dessert of “Tossa pomelo with coconut sorbet” arrived:

JAL 777-300ER First Class – Dessert

JAL 777-300ER First Class – Dessert

JAL 777-300ER First Class – Dessert

It was beautifully presented and tasted great – an excellent palette cleanser to end the meal.

Take off + 2 hrs 20 mins: Meal service was over and all the glasses and plates were cleared up.

This meant that, with over nine and a half hours of the flight remaining, there was plenty of time to get do some work and still get quite a bit of sleep.

At this point I decided to try out JAL’s onboard wi-fi using the free code I’d been given shortly after boarding.

JAL 777-300ER Wi-Fi

A handy info-sheet showed how much wi-fi would have cost had I had to pay for it…..

JAL 777-300ER Wi-Fi

…and it was good to see that JAL charges based on how long you need wi-fi for rather then by the megabyte (which I hate).

There was also a “global roaming” option which, presumably, allows passengers to hook up to wi-fi using their cellular provider.

JAL 777-300ER Wi-Fi

Logging in with the free code was simple enough….

JAL 777-300ER Wi-Fi

JAL 777-300ER Wi-Fi

….but unfortunately that’s the last positive thing I can say about my JAL wi-fi experience.

I kept getting messages like this…..

JAL 777-300ER Wi-Fi

…and like this:

JAL 777-300ER Wi-Fi

So I soon grew bored of trying to log on and I gave up.

As if to make up for the frustration I was having with the wi-fi nature gave me some great views out of the windows:

Take off + 2 hrs 45 mins: I got changed into my pajamas while one of the flight attendants made up my bed. 

JAL 777-300ER First Class

The mattresses JAL uses are hard on one side and soft on the other and you’re given a choice which way up you’d like your mattress to be – I went for soft.

After I had jumped into the bed the cabin services manager came around with a “moisture mask” a bottle of water and a skin care essentials kit for men.

JAL 777-300ER First Class

The duvet/comforter was fantastic – it was incredibly comfortable and, combined with the mattress made the bed one of the best I’ve had in the sky (at the time of writing I think it may even be joint first with Cathay’s First Class offering).

At this point I could have played around with JAL’s inflight entertainment (the screen was big enough)…..

JAL 777-300ER First Class

….but I decided that I really wanted to watch the shows I had pre-loaded to my MacBook and get some rest.

While the bedding was great the cabin was a bit hot to start off with. After a while, however, the temperature came down and I ended up having a great 6.5 hour sleep.

It was a very restful sleep and just confirmed that this was one of the most comfortable beds I’ve had in the air.

Take off + 9 hrs 25 mins:  I had been awake for around 20 minutes when one of the flight attendants asked if I’d like anything more to eat and drink….so I ordered some Japanese tea (the hot variety) and Udon noodles as didn’t want anything heavy.

I also knew that I would be flying JAL again later this year so I’ll have a chance to try the airline’s famous beef curry then 🙂

Take of + 9 hrs 4o mins: The “Japanese hot udon noodles with edible wild plants” was served together with the tea.

JAL 777-300ER First Class – A la carte food

JAL 777-300ER First Class – A la carte food

Both were delicious….and the the addition of Japanese red pepper (which came in the small bowl to the right of the noodles in the picture above) gave the noodles a great kick….you just have to be careful not to add too much as these aren’t mild peppers!

Take off + 10 hrs 15 mins: My last request of the flight was a coffee….and I ordered it purely because of the information that was offered about the coffee in the menu:

I really wanted to see what JAL’s “exceptional” coffee was like.

I was blown away!

The coffee was served in a press along with an egg timer to tell you when to depress the plunger – how cool is that?!

JAL 777-300ER First Class – Coffee

JAL 777-300ER First Class – Coffee

And, as if that wasn’t enough attention to detail, the mug was heated to keep the coffee at a steady warm temperature.

This was easily the best cup of coffee I’ve had in the air.

Take off + 11 hrs 6 mins: One of the flight attendants returned my coat and checks I’ve had a good flight – I have.

Take off + 11 hrs 10 mins:  The cabin services manager handed me a box with two macarons (to say thanks for flying JAL) and an “eye refresher” pack.

JAL 777-300ER First Class

Take off + 11 hrs 28 mins: The seatbelt signs are illuminated as we approach London Heathrow.

Take off + 11 hrs 45 mins: After taking exactly the amount of time the Cabin Services Manager had told me the flight was going to take (10 minutes after take off), we landed in London.

Thoughts

Negatives:

  • The wi-fi was abysmal…..but that was hopefully only on this flight. I’m flying with JAL again soon so I’ll report back on how good or bad the wi-fi is second time around.
  • The cabin was on the hot side shortly after the meal service ended….but crew got the temperature right in the end.

Positives:

  • The flight attendants were super-friendly and polite (without being sycophantic) and they were very good at not hovering while still managing to clear plates, glasses and cutlery promptly. That’s a tricky balancing act but they managed it brilliantly.
  • The seat was very comfortable, felt private and offered a lot of places to stow your items.
  • The bedding was amongst the best I’ve experienced and blows most carriers away.
  • The food was delicious…although the fillet could have been warmer.
  • The coffee was excellent and the attention to detail was impressive.
  • Free wi-fi is a nice touch (as long as it works)
  • The “goodbye and thank you” macarons were a nice touch at the end.

This was a very, very nice flight and it was a combination of a whole variety of things that contributed to that, not just one or two stand out things.

All-in-all the JAL First Class experience is an excellent one and well worth blowing some miles on….as I shall have proven by the time this blog comes out by flying Joanna and myself to Tokyo in this very cabin 🙂